There are two basic types of dealer licenses in California: A Wholesale license and a Retail.
With a retail license, you can sell cars to the public. You can also sell cars to dealers and wholesalers. You can also become an auto broker for $70 more with a retail license and you can sell cars through consignment. A retail license also includes wholesaling privileges!
With a wholesale license, you can only sell cars to dealers and wholesalers. No exceptions!!! You cannot become an auto broker and you cannot sell through consignment.
Which is better? We recommend retail. There is more money in retail. However, if you have connections in the auto industry, wholesaling can be profitable too. For example, if you well-connected with car dealerships and financial institutions, you can buy cars cheap and re-sell them at the dealer auctions.
Can wholesalers buy cars from the same sources as retailers? Yes! Both wholesalers and retailers can buy cars from any dealer auction in the United States.
What if you start wholesale and later decide to go retail? You will need to pay $70 to modify your license.